Analysing Dylan’s current set list – and forecasting what comes next

by mr tambourine

Current setlist (current streak: 19 shows in a row)

  1. Watching The River Flow
  2. Most Likely You Go Your Way
  3. I Contain Multitudes
  4. False Prophet
  5. When I Paint My Masterpiece
  6. Black Rider
  7. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
  8. My Own Version Of You
  9. Early Roman Kings
  10. To Be Alone With You
  11. Key West
  12. Gotta Serve Somebody
  13. I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You
  14. Melancholy Mood
  15. Mother Of Muses
  16. Goodbye Jimmy Reed
  17. Every Grain Of Sand

If Bob plays the same setlist as he did at the end of the previous tour throughout all 28 shows, it’ll be the longest running same setlist streak on consecutive shows ever in his entire career.

That record would have been broken, in fact, if he played the same setlist for the first 18 shows of this tour.

My expectation would be that he will change it a few times over the course of 28 shows, minimally though.

I’ve been studying Bob’s setlist changes in the very static 2013-2021 period and I came up with a pattern that he seems to use. (Not joking, I wasted so much of my precious time trying to figure it out)

Based on that pattern, there are “expected” songs he might revisit. By expected, I mean “more likely” compared to all other songs from his catalogue and of all the songs he’s ever played live. So, based on that pattern, I’ll give you likely songs that, if he changed the setlist, he’d return to the set.

I’ll put them in a few categories. Category 0 is the most likely percentage. Everything below has a lesser percentage. Remember, this is not only for this tour, I’m speaking about the entire 2022 year. I’m sure more tours will be announced later during the year.

Category 0:

17 songs from the latest setlist on the 2021 Tour (see above)

Category A:

Love Sick, It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry, Soon After Midnight, Simple Twist Of Fate

Category B:

Queen Jane Approximately, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Forever Young, Pledging My Time, The Wicked Messenger, Tombstone Blues, What Was It You Wanted

Category C:

Highway 61 Revisited, Honest With Me, Make You Feel My Love, Pay In Blood, Thunder On The Mountain, Tryin’ To Get To Heaven, It Ain’t Me Babe, Things Have Changed, Can’t Wait, Girl From The North Country, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Lenny Bruce, Not Dark Yet, Blowin’ In The Wind, Like A Rolling Stone, Scarlet Town, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Cry A While, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, Dignity, Boots Of Spanish Leather, Long And Wasted Years

Category D:

All or Nothing At All, She Belongs To Me, I’m A Fool To Want You, What’ll I Do, The Night We Called It A Day, How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky), That Old Feeling, Rainy Day Women, Masters Of War, Waiting For You, Forgetful Heart, Where Are You, Shelter From The Storm, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, The Levee’s Gonna Break, ‘Til I Fell In Love With You, Jolene, Sad Songs And Waltzes, What Good Am I, Huck’s Tune, Blueberry Hill, Heartbeat, You’re Too Late, Key To The Highway, Million Miles

Category E:

Drifter’s Escape, Bye And Bye, Tell Me That It Isn’t True, Sing Me Back Home, I’ll Remember You, If Dogs Run Free, A-11, Hazel, Rumble, Ring Them Bells, London Calling, Blue Monday, Down In The Flood (Crash On The Levee), Folsom Prison Blues, I Want You, Million Dollar Bash, One Too Many Mornings, You Win Again

Bonus Category, Category F:

Tangled Up In Blue, Desolation Row, Duquesne Whistle, Autumn Leaves, All Along The Watchtower, Come Rain Or Come Shine, Once Upon A Time, Summer Days, High Water, Spirit On The Water, Full Moon And Empty Arms, It’s A Man’s World, Why Try To Change Me Now, Workingman’s Blues #2, Moon River, September Of My Years, Visions Of Johanna, Lonesome Day Blues, Blind Willie McTell, To Ramona, That Old Black Magic, Stormy Weather, I Could Have Told You, This Nearly Was Mine, Where Is The One, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Learning To Fly, That Lucky Old Sun, Standing In The Doorway

If any of these songs gets played in 2022, we shouldn’t be surprised.

We should only be surprised if Bob plays a song that’s not on this list.   Trust me. I dedicated so much time into this!

I would also add another bonus category that contains: Crossing The Rubicon, Murder Most Foul. Just because they were released not long ago on the latest so far studio album.

With the additions of those two and all the songs I’ve mentioned: the appearance of any of them would not surprise me or shock me.

Sure, the live debuts of Rubicon and Murder Most Foul would be cool, and maybe one of the songs from the list if they contained a cool arrangement or performance…

Apart from the two Rowdy songs still not played, all of the rest are in the category of what I call “old news”.   They wouldn’t surprise me that much.   I would be surprised if Bob pulled out Jokerman or something… That would be shocking to me.

I’m not saying it won’t happen, but based on my detailed research, it doesn’t fit into the scheme and pattern of Bob’s static setlists phase that started in 2013, that many call “The Set”.

If a song like Jokerman or something similar gets played, you’ll know that Bob has finally got out of his comfort zone of 2013 onward.

The 2013-2021 period doesn’t attract many fans because it’s a “no risk, no reward” type of pattern established.   That being said, here is Bob’s pattern since 2013:

When Bob is bringing back songs to the setlist, it’s under these conditions:

  • songs he played a year earlier – which is not a big surprise
  • songs he played 2-3 years prior. There’s been many examples.

Not many people know Jolene was played last in 2015. It was the lone performance after a 3 year gap, since 2012.

  • I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, before 2021, was played in 2015 a few times after a 3-year gap and it was brought back in an interesting place – Albi in France, which sounds like Bob was jokingly singing Albi Your Baby Tonight.
  • Make You Feel My Love became a setlist regular in 2016 after a 3-year gap since 2013.
  • Cry A While was played in 2018 and became a setlist regular for a while, it was played for the first time since 2015.
  • Workingman’s Blues #2 had two rare performances in 2018 which are the last ones to date, they were played for the first time since 2015.
  • Thunder On The Mountain returned to the set and became a setlist regular in 2017 after not being played since 2014.
  • Summer Days wasn’t played from 2014 to 2017 at all.
  • Visions Of Johanna, the last performance to date in 2018 and the only one of that year, was played for the first time since 2015.
  • Tryin’ To Get To Heaven became a setlist regular in 2017, it was played for the first time since 2014.
  • All Along The Watchtower was played in 2018 for the first time since 2015.
  • What Good Am I played in 2013 for the first time since 2010.
  • Lonesome Day Blues and Rainy Day Women played in 2016 for the first time since 2014.
  • To Ramona, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Blind Willie McTell played in 2017 for the first time since 2015.
  • Shelter From The Storm played in 2014 for the first time since 2012.
  • Like A Rolling Stone played in 2016 for the first time since 2013 and also played in 2018 for the first time since 2016.
  • Highway 61 Revisited played in 2016 for the first time since 2013.
  • Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ brought back in 2019 for the first time since 2017.

Songs he played four years prior.  This has only a few examples.

  • It Ain’t Me Babe and Honest With Me became setlist regulars in 2017 on the same exact show, after both songs weren’t played since 2013.
  • It’s All Over Now Baby Blue played in 2016 for the first time since 2012.

Songs he played 6-7-8 years prior

  • I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight was played for the first time in 2021 since 2015.
  • Watching The River Flow and Most Likely You Go Your Way were played in 2021 for the first time since 2014.
  • Not Dark Yet, Dignity and Can’t Wait played in 2019 for the first time since 2012.
  • Every Grain Of Sand played in 2021 for the first time since 2013.
  • Masters Of War played in 2016 for the first time since 2010.

Rare/unique examples:

5 year gaps

Only twice that I’m aware of – Girl From The North Country played in 2019 for the first time since 2014, same goes for Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, but it was played as an instrumental in 2019

11 year gap

Only one of that kind – Lenny Bruce played in 2019 for the first time since 2008, one of the more surprising returns since 2013.

Now a special segment:  Returns of songs last played in 2005

  • Waiting For You returned in 2013, first performance since 2005
  • Standing In The Doorway returned in 2017, first performance since 2005
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry returned in 2018, first performance since 2005
  • To Be Alone With You returned in 2021, first performance since 2005

So, I see a pattern in 2-3 years apart, 6-7-8 years apart and songs last played in 2005. Most examples are there. You have rare examples of 4 years apart, 5 years apart and 11 years apart.  If you don’t count Shadow Kingdom as a concert, which I don’t.   But if you do, then you have rare examples of What Was It You Wanted being played for the first time since 1995 and Pledging My Time since 1999.

Most of the Shadow Kingdom songs though, fit into the pattern as well…

  • When I Paint My Masterpiece previously last played in 2019
  • It’s All Over Now Baby Blue previously last played in 2019
  • Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues previously last played in 2019 as an instrumental and in 2014 as a singing performance
  • I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight previously last played in 2015
  • Queen Jane Approximately previously last played in 2013
  • Watching The River Flow previously last played in 2014
  • Most Likely You Go Your Way previously last played in 2014.

Rare examples, along with What Was It You Wanted and Pledging My Time, include To Be Alone With You (since 2005), Tombstone Blues (since 2006), Wicked Messenger (since 2009) and Forever Young (since 2011).

The biggest surprise from the 2013-2021 is possibly Huck’s Tune debuted in 2014 and played 6 times that year and never again. A song by the way recorded in 2006 and released officially in 2008 on Tell Tale Signs, which fits into the 6-7-8 year gap, which is one of the patterns Bob has used quite a few times in this period.

Dylan has not gone deeper than 2005 when it comes to picking songs last played from certain years if you don’t count Shadow Kingdom as a concert, since “The Set” started in 2013.   And it’s sad because you have some great songs last played before that.

  • 2004 – If Not For You, Silvio
  • 2003 – Jokerman, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Dear Landlord, Everything Is Broken, Born In Time
  • 2002 – In The Summertime, In The Garden
  • 2001 – Gates Of Eden
  • 2000 – Man Of Peace
  • 1999 – I And I
  • 1998 – License To Kill
  • 1993 – Emotionally Yours, Tight Connection To My Heart
  • 1992 – Idiot Wind

Let’s now look at the 2006-2012 period, songs Bob rarely dusts off the shelf:

  • 2006 – Down Along The Cove, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You, New Morning, Never Gonna Be The Same Again, Tombstone Blues
  • 2007 – Country Pie, You’re A Big Girl Now
  • 2008 – Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Tears Of Rage
  • 2009 – Maggie’s Farm (NET performance), Times They Are A-Changin’ (NET performance), Wicked Messenger
  • 2010 – Just Like A Woman, Mr Tambourine Man, Lay Lady Lay
  • 2011 – I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine, Forever Young, Cold Irons Bound
  • 2012 – Mississippi, Joey, Sugar Baby, Chimes Of Freedom, You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Love Minus Zero No Limit, My Back Pages, Absolutely Sweet Marie, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, John Brown

So many songs out there.

The quoted text includes songs that would be shocking returns in 2022 and beyond probably. But mainly this is for 2022.

I expect at least three tours in 2022.  So will Bob stick to the pattern only? Or will he start a new period yet again?   Maybe an updated “Set”?

We’ll see…

I laid out the main information for you; I expect you to keep this information as a future guide!

If Bob returns to a song not played in a while, just check these lists of mine to see if you should be shocked or not. I hope you will be shocked…!

————

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6 Responses to Analysing Dylan’s current set list – and forecasting what comes next

  1. Soren says:

    I have a feeling he’s gonna play a song from the 80’s. Good article by the way.
    When Bob was in his 40’s he was funnier than ever. Has he lost the witty touch of life? We don’t know. Ok, we might get Oh, Mercy songs, but I don’t think so. Jim Jones? No. That’s actually from the 90’s. So, yes, we would welcome poor old Jim. Even if he’s not from the 80’s. I think Tight Connection from Empire Burlesque is a hot one. But I guess if you play a song like Scarlet Town in a set, it’s hard to remember a sweet tune from the good old 80’s.

  2. gianjeez says:

    (Not joking, I wasted so much of my precious time trying to figure it out)

    maybe u should ask yourself why you did waste your ‘precious’ time like that. Just Joking. Nice article btw

  3. Enoch says:

    Yo… this is great! Thank you for all the hard work! We’ll be seeing Bod next month in Savannah GA. Regarding Category F, I can’t speak definitively about the entire listing of songs, but I do have an idea. Here in Savannah, Bob’s 2019 show ended with a brilliant, crooning “Moon River”. Bob introduced the song (the only commentary of the night, saying: “Don’t want you to think we don’t know that we are playing the historic Johnny Mercer Theater”, and sang the (local-boy-makes-good) Mercer penned tuned. Similarly in the nearby Augusta GA (hometown to the late, great James Brown), the fan’s got “Its A Man’s World”. In Savannah, the fans erupted, the entire theater standing! Special night! My friend saw it as pandering… I said “Bob doesn’t pander, it is more likely an honest nod from one brilliant artist to another and little to do with crowd”!

  4. Tim Roach says:

    I ain’t lookin to………….analyze you, categorize you………..all i really wanna doooooooo is baby, be friends with youuuuuuu Thank you, mr tambourine for all you do.

  5. Cam Johnson says:

    What about Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat? It was played often in 2010, 11 and 12. Maybe?

  6. Zedsaunt says:

    When Putin’s army starts turning Odessa into rubble, I would hope Dylan told his audience about his ancestors and their time in Odessa, and then plays ‘Chimes of Freedom.’

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